Dorset Library Service has been awarded funding from an Arts Council England National Lottery Project grant, to develop Libraries as Cultural Hubs Phase 2. This one-year digital arts programme of 11 events and 2 artist residencies for young people and adults across Dorset, is supported by The Friends Groups of Corfe Mullen, Sturminster Newton, Weymouth, Wimborne and Wyke Regis Libraries.

Autumn/Winter 2021 – Spring 2022 Programme

Events taking place include creative writing workshops with Chris Jury, talks celebrating Black History Month and Dorset’s Black History, Clay Workshops for adults living with dementia and many more. For a full list of events and booking links take a look at the Libraries as Cultural Hubs Events Programme, August 2021- February 2022.

Click on the videos below to listen to Louisa Adjoa Parker talk about her involvement with the project and her new memoir; as well as Artist in Residence, Chris Jury talking about his “Telling a Different Story” Creative Writing workshops.


The focus of this year’s project is on celebrating diversity with a range of artists to shape an open, more diverse, inclusive and equal cultural offer. The programme enables Dorset Libraries to:

  • offer a range of arts events to support the wellbeing of children and adults and provide bespoke workshops for adults living with dementia
  • provide and promote the opportunity for young people to actively engage in Arts Award Discover and Explore
  • collaborate with Activate Performing Arts Remix and with Dorset Youth Dance to create set pieces to inspire young people
  • actively target cultural cold spots in East Dorset and the Purbecks
  • contribute to the local economy and sense of place through a programme of local artist-led activities
  • work collaboratively with Library partner organisations; The Arts Development Company and the Friends Groups of Corfe Mullen, Sturminster Newton, Weymouth, Wimborne and Wyke Regis Libraries who are supporting these events.

How we are involved

Working as a partner, The Arts Development Company is supporting the programme as a steering group partner and supporting the marketing aspects.

Project Phase 1 Overview

How we were involved

  • We helped develop the funding bid after partnering a first stage consultation with the communities in Gilligham and Weymouth
  • We wrote the artists briefs for the 8 residencies and supported recruitment of all the artists
  • We supported the Libraries as Cultural Hubs co-ordinator in her role working with the artists and programming activities. 
  • We were on the programme steering group
  • We fed into the evaluation and reporting for the programme

Our impact 

Key Facts
– 86 artists employed
– 8250 participants at events
– 84 staff training days
– 1745 live audience
– 21 new commissions
– 123 days of employment for artists
– 756 exhibition/performance days

View the full report here

“This has made a big difference to me. Did I tell you I’ve been very ill? I don’t think of any of that when I come and see you, you’ve really encouraged me and given me hope with my poems.”
– Writing workshop participant

 Further Steps

  • Libraries as Cultural Hubs enabled the communities in Gillingham and Weymouth to actively collaborate with the Library Service and
    plan integrated community events. As a result, Gillingham Library participated in Gillingham Green Week and Gillingham Walking Festival and our relationship with the Weymouth LGBT community was strengthened by the library service hosting Storytime with Mama G as part of Weymouth’s inaugural Gay Pride event. Developing the concept of libraries as a community space for performance, we are now being approached by artists who wish to use the space, as well as arts organisations.
  • Having held successful adult and children’s events at Gillingham Library we are exploring the concept of using other rural libraries as venues for touring performers. We will continue to build networks with health partners and agencies to offer a range of arts and health programmes with appropriate professional support. We are currently delivering arts programmes as one of the partners for My Creative Life, a pilot project delivering adult day care differently.
  • Let’s Create (Arts Council England’s new 10-year Strategy 2020-2030) declares that public libraries provide “a vital resource for the development of creativity and the promotion of culture…” and we look forward to developing the Libraries as Cultural Hubs offer in collaboration with our local communities, potential partners and Friend’s Groups across our network of 23 rural and town libraries. We recognise that the cultural offer would be different for each library, but a collaborative approach will enable us to contribute to cultural communities and offer opportunities for individuals to develop and express creativity. We will look to work with education providers to offer young people access to a range of cultural activities and continue to help build stronger happier communities, develop readers and writers, promote digital literacy and support social prescribing.


Writer in residence Alan Ward reflects on his time at Gillingham Library

Fiction writer and poet Alan Ward has completed his residency at Gillingham Library. He's put together his final thoughts and reflections for this successful project. I’ve got to know Gillingham Library very well in the last three months. I’ve known it in its quiet...

Sarah Acton’s writer’s residency lives on at Weymouth Library

Writer, poet and creative facilitator Sarah Acton has just completed her three-month writers residency at Weymouth Library. Although her time there has come to an end, her project 'Weymouth-on-Sea' will live on. Here's Sarah to tell you more: At the start of my...

This Library is Yours: Introducing Gillingham Library’s writer-in-residence Alan Ward

Gillingham Library is currently home to fiction writer and poet Alan Ward. He's encouraging everyone to engage more with their local library and to celebrate this wonderful public resource we all share. We recently caught up with him to find out how he's getting on...